[foaf-dev] alternate names for people

Tom Morris tfmorris at gmail.com
Wed Jun 2 18:53:45 CEST 2010

On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 7:06 AM, Dan Brickley <danbri at danbri.org> wrote:

> On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 3:55 AM, Ed Summers <ehs at pobox.com> wrote:
>> My apologies if this has come up before. Has anyone needed to model
>> alternate names for a foaf:Person before? The issue came up in a
>> thread on the openlibrary tech list discussing how to improve access
>> to author resources [1].
> This is an important use case, thanks for writing it down in our mailing list :)

I agree.  Aliases and name variants are a very basic human naming
tradition that is important to support.  In addition to our birth
names, people take new names when adopted or married, to honor
benefactors, to distinguish themselves from others with similar names,
and sometimes "just because."  I'm kind of surprised that there isn't
already support for this.

The important thing is to get a basic alias recording mechanism in
place, but more sophisticated use cases may call for additional
annotation of the names with their type (birth name, nom de plume,
call name/ruffname), when/where they were adopted/used, etc.

> I think there are two important sub-scenarios here, and the mixing of
> bibliography / historical data with social Web data makes their
> interconnections very interesting.
> Scenario 1: SECRETS. One person has two activities in the world, and
> keeps them very distinctly separate. [...]
> Scenario 2: common public knowledge of the alternate name, [...]
> But I suggest we need two design notes:
> 1. To make clear that people have the right to privacy, to keep
> secrets, and that just because we know that two personas are the same
> real-world person, we don't have to publish that in RDF.

This sounds like it's mixing policy with mechanism.  Surely it's up to
the consumers of the specification to determine how they use it.
Saying you can only write politically acceptable facts in RDF and you
have to use English for the rest isn't going to make things any more
secret.  Privacy is an orthogonal concern -- important, but different.

On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 9:28 AM, Houghton,Andrew <houghtoa at oclc.org> wrote:
>> From: foaf-dev-bounces at lists.foaf-project.org [mailto:foaf-dev-
>> bounces at lists.foaf-project.org] On Behalf Of Ross Singer
>> If the same resource is used (and we just use foaf:name/skos:altLabel
>> to distinguish "identities"), how does an application know which is
>> the proper label to display for a particular association?
> Multiple names are all variants.  When an "agent" chooses one it
> becomes the preferred name *for that agent*.  For example, the
> Library of Congress, an agent, may choose a preferred name from
> the list of variants, but the German National Library, an agent,
> may choose a different name from the list of variants.  Neither
> agent is wrong, that is why it's *preferred*.  So with *preference*
> there is some provenance that needs to be attached.  An application
> is just another *agent* and can choose any of the variants, e.g.,
> the first one or last one, whatever makes sense, or if there was
> some sort of provenance attached to a variant the application
> could choose the one it trusts the most as the preferred.

This is  true for authoritarian institutions like national libraries
that have the concept of "authorized names," but more user centric
software would probably either choose a) a name variant that conforms
to the user's preference or b) the name variant used on the work
itself.  Both book and movie catalogs typically include a "credited
as" field specific to the work/contributor tuple.


More information about the foaf-dev mailing list